San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Central American leaders concerned over rekindling of Nicaragua-Russia military ties

Nicaragua’s recent confirmation that it intends to purchase Russian-made fighter planes is causing concern among its two immediate neighbors — Costa Rica to the south and Honduras to the north — amid fear of a potential military imbalance in Central America.

But Nicaragua’s military establishment has assured its jittery neighbors that the country poses no threat to anyone in Central America — or the rest of Latin America, for that matter.

Last August the Nicaraguan Army’s top official, Gen. Julio César Avilés, told reporters that the country’s military was in the process of buying airplanes, helicopters, and vessels to protect Nicaraguan sovereignty, “taking into account the evolution of threats and risks to our country.”

Army Inspector Gen. Adolfo Zepeda elaborated on those plans in February, saying that “in order to prevent…drug-traffickers’ airplanes from entering our air space” authorities were in the process of obtaining “interceptor fighters.”

Zepeda assured that “it’s completely defensive aviation, not attack planes.”

The Nicaraguan press has reported the planes as MiG-29s, but the government has not confirmed that publicly.

Costa Rica’s administration expressed concern in the aftermath of the statements.

During one of the Costa Rican government’s weekly press conferences in late February, Foreign Affairs Minister Manuel González reported that he and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry had discussed the issue during their February meeting in Washington.

“The purchase of fighter planes announced by the government of Nicaragua is a source of concern for us and for many other countries in the region,” he said.

Asked about a possible Costa Rican response, González said the government was considering whether to bring the issue before the executive committee of the regional Central American Integration System (SICA).

“However, it must be considered with absolute clarity that what Nicaragua spends its money on is its sovereign decision,” González said.

“We have no way to prevent, condemn or block their purchase, or not, of $30 million airplanes.”

Still, González hinted that the country might have higher priorities, like poverty. He also said that, as a neighbor, Costa Rica has the right to express its concern over a potential “arms race that we consider unnecessary in a region that should actually seek disarmament, stability, and actually fight off common problems like poverty, drug trafficking, crime, and violence.”

Honduran security experts have also expressed concern over the announced purchase.

Edmundo Orellana, who served as foreign affairs minister and defense minister under former president Manuel Zelaya, told the Honduran daily La Prensa that “this is an extremely delicate issue” about which Honduran authorities “must at least voice official concern.”

He also said the issue should be brought before SICA, the Organization of American States and possibly even the U.N.

The Nicaragua-Russia military connection dates back to the first administration of the leftist Sandinista National Liberation Front, which ousted U.S.-backed dictator Anastasio Somoza in 1979. The Sandinista army was heavily equipped by the Soviet Union.

The Sandinistas, and former President Daniel Ortega, again came to power in 2007.

Ortega, who was reelected in 2011, has reestablished ties with Russia, while also maintaining good relations with the U.S. on issues like fighting drug trafficking.

In 2013, the U.S. donated nearly $6 million worth of speedboats and other drug-fighting equipment to the Nicaraguan Navy.





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Russia is trying to dump some of it’s old military inventory anywhere it can and make a few dollars to keep it’s economy afloat. I wouldn’t doubt that you will soon see these Russian surplus planes on eBay or CraigsList. These planes are so out of date. I doubt that they are reliable and would end up being more of a liability than an asset. This is a joke…

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Russia is selling new inventory read AP report online.

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Donald Waltz

Comrade Ben, good to see you again. I was missing your communist bullsh#t. You make my day when you put comments here as I usually read them while taking a dump. Peace

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Mr. Waltz, abusive language usually shows weakness of arguments… and I am so tired of seeing comments on websites using “communist” word everywhere when it comes to Russia or something Russian. Let’s stop mixing USSR with Russia and link communism with everything Russian. This is quite outdated Cold War propaganda speech and talk from the previous century.
Please read John Perkins’ Confessions of Economic Hitman about the reality of the Latin America and the US interests in this continent and what the US administration, NSA, CIA and military have to do with many coups, president killings, protests and economical slavery. Stronger Russia becomes, more balance will come and less wars as US will no longer be the only super power to dictate to others what to do… And please do not be afraid from Russian aggression – all this is cheap propaganda to justify NATO geo-political plans and keep the petro-dolar and suppress any country which has independent point of view. Latin American countries need to become more independent and put their wealth their own hands, not in the hands of foreign corporations. This is what will be slowly happening and US will not be able to stop this, unless they provoke a full scale war with Russia… Russia hopefully will not allow this.

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i hear talks of rearmed contras

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I am glad to see Nicaraqua getting a better military they could use planes to defend against Costa Rican narco´s that use planes to fly drug in and out of there country. Good to see Russia playing a role in Latin America unlike the US goverment aka CIA that kills Latin American leaders.

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Do you have anything intelligent to say or do you alway talk pure BS???? I guess you don’t care if Nicaragua decides to exert its power, what kind of Costa Rican are you??? You obviously don’t care about the sovereignty of your country.

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Chad clearly your just another blind US citizen to your goverment policy in latin america. Costa Rica is fine and Nicaraqua is not a threat to anybody but i wish all of Latin America would build up there militarys so they can defend against the US goverment policy of over throw and kill elected leaders in Latin America. Learn a little history before speaking about US policy and history in Latin America before posting. If Nicaraqua wants to have a large military go for it and if any other Latin America country wants a larger military they have the right.

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Ben, you need to learn how to read. Not once did I mention US policy. You are like an old grandpa that goes off on tangents. Nicaragua wants to grab up Costa Rican land. with a stronger military that will be easier for Nicaragua. I believe that you are the one in need of a history lesson as there is a border dispute between the two countries. put down the anti-US propaganda and pick up a newspaper and you might learn something.

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